Maiden voyages of Nighthawk 16

I bought an extensively used - as evidenced by the multiple scratches and worn areas - 2000 Eddyline Nighthawk 16 today after a test paddle on Lake Michigan. This one is all white with black seam and Carbonlite bulkheads, rather than the transparent bulkheads that let more light into the hatches.

This seems to be a boat of two natures - one on rougher water with plenty of wind and another on flat calm water with no wind. On Lake Michigan, it seemed surprisingly hard tracking and had to be edged more than I expected to turn very quickly. On flatwater with no wind, it seemed quite maneuverable.

With the skeg down, I really noticed the added drag. This boat’s skeg is a bit rough from many sand beach (Lake Michigan) landings, so the rough surface may be a factor in the added drag when extended. This is my first skegged boat. This skeg also has a keyring installed on the tip of the skeg, presumably to pull a jammed skeg open when the lever doesn’t work or to keep it from going too far into the recess. The original owner is dead, so I can only speculate regarding the outfitting. The guy that I bought it from had taken it in trade for construction services and had never paddled it. Are these skeg blades easily replaceable, if needed? I’ll check with Eddyline regarding this, also.

Initial impressions of efficiency and speed are that it doesn’t seem more efficient or speedier than either my composite Aquaterra Sea Lion or QCC 400X, but it’s a better physical fit for me than either of those two at 5’6" and 155 lbs. Much more seat time will be required to get a better handle on this. I suspect that the roughed up surface of the boat is somewhat detrimental to the efficiency & speed.

I was surprised at how far up on edge the Nighthawk 16 needs to be to turn quickly.

The conditions on Lake Michigan today weren’t such that required use of the skeg. It didn’t seem to weather cock much with beam winds & waves and seemed to track better than expected without the skeg for a boat with this much rocker. I suspect that the deep V hull shape has something to do with this. My other two sea kayaks have more flattish arched bottoms.

I’ll still be on the look out for a QCC 600X to try out to see if it’s a better fit for my uses than the Nighthawk 16. The Nighthawk was good enough price that I won’t have any trouble selling it if a different boat that I prefer more presents itself. Now, if someone would buy my Sea Lion, so that I have a space to store the Nighthawk. I have to add a temporary birth in my rental garage until I get a boat sold.

As a bonus, a Snapdragon neoprene/nylon skirt and a 220cm Swift Windswift came with the boat.

I’ve read all of the reviews and most of the discussions with the Nighthawk 16, but still would appreciate any input regarding the rough skin surface, replacing the skeg blade, if needed, or any other strengths or weaknesses of the Carbonlite 2000 Nighthawk 16.

Normally there’s a loop of light line on the skeg, used to pull the skeg loose when the slot between it and the skeg box gets jammed with gravel, otherwise it’s really tricky to get the skeg loose without damage and yes it causes some drag. All skegs, rudders too, cause drag, nature of the beast. Better to edge the boat to control the boat, no drag that way.

Bill H.

So, you don’t think we should run out
and buy another boat right away? I suppose we could discuss it somewhere.

Sorry Yanoer- I missed your call
when you were in town. I had my cell off until Monday AM when I retrieved your message.

My wife dragged me to two neighborhood art fairs on Saturday and then we saw “Inception” but I can’t really tell what it was about.

I hope you enjoy the Nighthawk. Eddyline is fairly prevalent in the Chicago area. One of the the dealers used to have “demo days” each Saturday at the Skokie Lagoons. I don’t remember if I demoed the Nighthawk. I tried the Falcon 18 once and it was fast, tracked very straight, but difficult to edge (but I only had 15 minutes with the boat).

Hope we get to paddle soon. I’ve been doing mainly solitary paddles this year.

white goes faster
I forget who, but someone downstate used to have a Nighthawk that we would paddle with. My impression is that it’s a very nice boat, but it does have a personality you have to get used to. The thing I didn’t like was how high the seat was. Why raise the center of gravity any farther than you have to? Higher than other boats. I wouldn’t worry about the scratches. ABS is like fiberglass in that respect: it gets “innies” when it scratches (unlike plastic, which gets burrs), so it won’t slow you down. Agressive edging and that deep V hull is something you have to get used to. The trick is this: Lay the boat down on its side. On your lawn or somewhere like that. Whatever angle it assumes is the angle it wants to be edged. Now sit in the boat and see how it feels. That’s the angle you’re going to want to lean it over onto to aggressively turn. It’s really like three boats in one: one with no edging, and one on either side. But you can’t beat the weight, and I’d be surprised if you didn’t start having better luck with women. A good looking boat.

Nighthawk 16
is a pretty good do-all boat.

Even tho it’s one of Eddyline’s “smaller paddler” offerings, it’s still got relatively high decks, a largish cockpit and quite a bit of volume below the seam.

At your size you should find it roomy and be showing plenty of waterline. That may be what’s causing the need to edge more deeply.

V hull make for a clean quiet entry into the water. It will “dance” more in lumpy water - meaning it comes down slightly differently each time.

Some people do wince a little bit getting accustomed to a V hull, as it tends to want to lay on one side or the other - and is most happy moving - but the time it takes to make friends is worth it. IMO they are one factor that makes for more speed if the paddler has the engine.

Congrats, play w. the skeg, enjoy the boat!

Eddyline doesn’t make frequent significant changes in their models (maybe the rumored Fathom rework with the much anticipated lower deck is the exception rather than the rule)so getting a replacement skeg kit should be easy. The company gives great customer service.

Thanks for that skeg info.

Sounds like you were too busy to
paddle anyway. I just thought I’d give a call since I was nearby in Rogers Park and Skokie Lagoons wasn’t too far away. We just might hook up yet this year for a paddle.

I did find a discussion thread where you talked about your test paddle of a Nighthawk 16.

It was Guiness that had the Nighthawk 16
The deep V hull is only an issue when flopping side to side when I’m getting into the boat - I got dumped by waves on Lake Michigan the first time that I tried to enter in about 1’ deep water at the beach launch. Once I’m sitting in it, it seems pretty solid. The Sea Lion and 400X are much easier to enter and exit.

This boat fits me well enough that I might try to learn to roll in it.

Cockpit fit is pretty good for me.
I don’t think I’d want to loose much more than 1/2" or so. I don’t want the thigh braces to be engaged all the time. The thigh braces fit my legs probably better than any other boat I’ve tried, so far, quite comfortable. I also want to be sure that I have room for my size 9 Chota Mukluks in the foot peg area in any lower volume boats that I try.

This boat came with the thickly padded seat back installed, but also came with what appears to be an alternate unpadded, bare plastic seat back option, which I might give a try.

The initial stability of the V bottom doesn’t seem to be an issue once I’m in the seat. No problem reaching out to the side to retrieve wayward bobbers & fishing lures lost in the local lake that I paddle. It’s getting into the seat that’s a different experience than my other boats - probably most similar to the Phoenix Isere.

I look forward to getting better acquainted with it. It’s not as quick or sporty as I remember from my test paddle 4 years ago, but I was more interested in straight tracking boats at that time, rather than responsive and playful.

I’d like to compare the fit and handling of the Nighthawk 16 with a Fathom LV sometime and I still want to test paddle a QCC 600X.

getting in a boat
You probably already know this, but it made a HUGE difference for me – stabilizing the boat by holding the paddle shaft tightly to the back of the cockpit coming (sp?) while resting/pressing the paddle blade on a rock (or whatever). I have a Fathom and it doesn’t budge when I enter that way. It did take me awhile to actually try that technique (I’m slow!), but it sure works.

good observations Yanoer
sounds like you know what you’re looking for.

Tried a Fathom LV at Grand Marais. The first time I paddled it was shortly after the LV model was launched. I still feel, then and now, it is not a true small paddlers’ boat, but rather a boat for a smaller man or a woman in the same weight range. My guess FWIW is that boat’s sweet spot is 140-170 lbs paddler weight.

This time out I did more things with the kayak, but my impressions remained the same… beautifully made boat, great thigh braces…but not quite the speed, seemed I had to push the boat thru the water. Not the liveliness I like, seemed fractionally slower on braces and turns. Honestly it was a bit boring and my demo was short.

That same morning I demo’d a Tiderace Excite S (16’5", 20" beam)that really rang my chimes (went out in in twice, and we could’ve danced all night) and one of my favorite demos, the Current Designs Rumour (16’, 19" beam). Those boats moved much more quickly and responsively for me and, like the Fathom LV, boasted superb build quality (and they did get a thorough looking over, inside & out)

That’s not a condemnation of the Fathom LV, more of a confirmation of what a true small paddlers’ kayak can mean for a small person.

Another woman who is 5’3" and 137 lbs tried the Fathom LV, as did a woman 5’2" and 110 lbs, and they had the same impressions. I think the first woman is going to buy a Capella 161 and the second woman liked the Rumour but wants to demo an Avocet LV and Capella 161.

you’re right
It was Guiness. Learn to roll?! Now there’s a bold idea!

Thanks for that suggestion.
I pretty much stopped using that technique when I started using more expensive paddles. I normally use an Epic Relaxed Tour all carbon paddle and couldn’t afford to replace it if I were to break it by using it as a stabilizer while entering the boat.

I don’t seem to have a problem entering the boat unless in surf with waves slopping me around.

FF, question re Tiderace Excite S
Friendly Fire,

Did you by any chance lift the Tiderace Excite S? Very heavy? I had the impression that they were heavily built like some other Brit boats. Read that somewhere, could be wrong.

What else are you demoing?

Sixteen feet in length sounds about right for me, and I want more speed than I have in my Impex Mystic. (Of course, some of the problem is with the motor.) But I also want a boat I can pick up. Fathom LV supposedly weighs 47 pounds.

G in NC

With respect to the Fathom LV
I’m paddling one (I’m 5’6" @ 145lb) and the fit and construction of the fathom is top notch. I’d bet that the 47 lb weight you saw was without the hatch covers but I can tell you the boat is light… well for the first 50 meters or so. I really like the polycarbonate construction. I pretty much beat on the boat and its holding up nicely.

Today I wanted to practice rolling (prior to a trip) but forgot my skirt. This gave me a chance to roll the Fathom sans skirt. I couldn’t tell any difference other than it came up full of water. Seemed like a good time to try a re-entry and roll, which I haven’t previously done. Did five straight with no trouble other than having to manually feel the blade for position prior to coming up. The water was just a little too murky to see the blade angle.

Tiderace now has their boats built in Thailand (you probably knew that) and what they describe as a state of the art facility. This may result in a weight change but whatever it is, I’m sure that the Excite S at 16 and a half feet isn’t particularly heavy.

Oh, and I’d really like to try one too. The Tiderace boats are just so damn sexy.

Nighthawk 16

– Last Updated: Aug-04-10 3:54 PM EST –

I've paddled one for years now. have done one week trips with it no problem.
When I 1st got it I thought it was way tippy I was always paddling like a bat out of hell. Thing zips right along. All depended if I was in good shape or not how fast it went. In the early years I had to learn to slow down so I wouldn't get to separated from other paddlers.
Learned to roll with that boat.
It had a hard plastic back attached to the seat. I kept the seat but took off the plastic back and put in a back band, very happy I changed it.
I added some foam to make more of a hook for my thighs.
The carbonlite (though it is not carbon) has proved to be near indestructible. I've dragged it on portages, (though not often.)

I use the skeg as the mood strikes me. A skeg or rudder will add drag but if you are using energy constantly edgeing than I think it's just 6 of one & half the other. Of course you can use the skeg in increments, it's not an all or nothing as with a rudder.

I think it tracks well partly because the cockpit sits nearer to the back end of the boat. It's about as lively as you want as you get used to it. Sometimes I lean forward a whisker to make a turn or back a little. If It doesn't turn when you lean into the turn try leaning away from the turn (you'll soon find out it's capsize point quickly leaning away, that's for sure)

Anyway have fun.... sounds like you got a good buy for your money.

Follow up
"I use the skeg as the mood strikes me…"

Yeah, I use skeg every once in a while simply because I paid for it and to see if it’s still there:)

for gingernc
yup, I lifted the Tiderace Excite S (fiberglass layup) from the deeper water where I dismounted up to the sand, where a short line of paddlers was awaiting their demo '-)

I’d guess it was not over 50 lbs. My two kayaks, the North Shore Shoreline Fuego and the Current Designs Suka, have true scale weights of 46 and 41 lbs respectively. The Suka is kevlar/glass, and that option is also avail. in the Tiderace range, as well as carbon. And, as Byron said, the move to build in Thailand may, as it has for Necky’s Chathams, result in a high quality boat that is light, strong and beautiful (if the early reports hold true and if they are going to go w. vacuum bagging or vacuum infusion).

The Tiderace ExciteS is indeed one sexy boat. But as you demo look beyond that for the boat best suited to your motor, your skills (present and where you want to take them), your paddling venues, etc. My opinions are worth what you pay for them '-)

Personally I’m always eager to try low volume boats 15’6" - 16’6", beam no greater than 20", etc. But that is me. And I demo many others outside those dimensions as I learn a lot about how design affects performance, comfort, etc.

Other boats of this type I have demo’d and enjoyed are: the CD Rumour, the Avocet LV, Impex Montauk,and, at 17 feet, the Impex Cat Force 3. Add to that list the Nigel Foster Silhouette,(longest boat I felt I could motor, and fast!)

Over the weekend I tried the P&H Cetus LV, which is a very appealing kayak, a very nice all rounder, save for what I see as a overly bulged out foredeck - wish they would shape that down, it would be so much nicer in the wind and stay out of the way when doing close manoeuvers.

At Grand Marais I also tried, w. great anticipation, the Impex Mystic. Perhaps too much build up about this vaunted small seakayak - I certainly wanted to like it, but it was actually just an okay experience- a nimble boat, but frankly rather pokey and almost boringly stable…this demo was on flat water in the Grand Marais harbor, so maybe it is perkier in textured water.

The Tiderace ExciteS is pure infatuation, since I adore my two seakayaks & am not in the market for a third. (she said bravely) Anyone who has a chance to demo any of the Tideraces - go for it, but at your peril… they are lust-inducing!

Further more
"The Tiderace ExciteS is pure infatuation, since I adore my two seakayaks & am not in the market for a third. (she said bravely) Anyone who has a chance to demo any of the Tideraces - go for it, but at your peril… they are lust-inducing…"

I’d love to try one. I’m in NE Ohio and the nearest dealer is in NYC. Next spring I might have to take a trek.

In a couple of days I’m off to Georgian Bay but plan to stop by Riverside Kayak on my return. Might have a chance to try a Cetus LV. It might have a high front deck but I bet it isn’t as high as the LV Fathom’s.

At present there are just so many really fine boats out there…